Embrace of the Vampire

| October 13, 2013

Sometimes, a film has no business being remade.  Steve Martin’s spin on The Pink Panther for instance is a true abomination.  I had even heard tell of a Casablanca remake starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, before God stepped in and broke the couple up.  Good lookin’ out, big guy.  Sometimes a film can really benefit from a remake; taking advantage of modern technology to tell the story in a smoother way and bring something new to the screen.  2011’s Fright Night strikes me as a good example as I’ve always had huge problems with the original.  Remaking Embrace of the Vampire (1995) doesn’t seem to fall into either category.  I barely remember the original, but seem to recall that Charlotte’s (Alyssa Milano) seduction by the dark side came really suddenly and without much basis in reality; like you’d expect in a porn movie about a girl losing her innocence.  That being said, while Charlotte’s loss of innocence in the remake does feel more realistic, there is a ton more sex and nudity in this version; like you’d expect in a porn movie.

In the 2013 version, Charlotte (Shannon Hinnendael) is starting school at a small college in the mountains somewhere.  She has a full-ride fencing scholarship, and is determined to keep herself out of trouble.  She also suffers from a rare blood disease, and has vivid and horrifying hallucinations.

When I say a small college, I mean it.  Someone should go through this and count how many different students you see over the course of the film.  I’d bet it’s around 30, and in any given shot of the campus, the school feels ridiculously under-populated.  The fencing angle plays well on screen, and gives the characters some physicality, and gives Charlotte an opportunity to be strong and swift in contrast to her everyday life.  Of course, the other members of the team all hate her because they’re archetypes who are threatened by competition.  It seems like their only function in the film besides making things harder for Charlotte is to take their clothes off, which happens a lot.

I’m disappointed that the fencing angle doesn’t come into play with the film’s climax.  Charlotte and the Vampire (Victor Webster) face off, and he has a collection of old weapons lying around, but instead of picking a sword, she goes with a large awkward spear.  This choice on behalf of the character as well as the filmmakers made no sense to me, and completely ruined everything that was built up in the earlier fencing scenes.

The film does try to take an interesting twist on the vampire mythology.  Here, Charlotte comes from a long line of vampire hunters, and a hunter is made by blending the blood of a vampire into an innocent young girl.  This is then passed on to her offspring until (and this is where it gets lame) the vampire sleeps with one of the girls in this bloodline while she’s still a virgin.  This will make him a human, and somehow torment her for eternity.  That angle is not really clear, but it’s thrown in there so Charlotte can’t just sleep with him and end the conflict.

Easily my favorite parts of the film are the scenes between Charlotte and Chris (Ryan Kennedy).  Someone put a lot of care into those scenes and making Chris a witty and charming character.  There’s a natural flow to his lines that make them seem improvised and it made him feel more genuine than anyone else in the film.

No special features on the Blu-ray, but it is the unrated version of the film.  I don’t know what’s different, but I imagine the lesbian sex scene between Hinnendael and Chelsea Reist couldn’t have been that long and graphic in the theatrical cut.  Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment on October 15.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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